eBooks, Libraries and the Digital Divide: Harper Collins, the eBook Industry and the Debate on eBook Lending, Econtent Distribution, DRMs, and Democracy

By Louise Pisano Simone.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This essay addresses the incompatibility of ebook formats
across ereader platforms, restrictions placed on ebook
lending policies by libraries, and how these problems
restrict access to information by underserved populations
around the world who rely on libraries for access to
essential knowledge. An analysis of the ebook environment
using genre tracing, Actor Network Theory and a Critical
Stance Analysis enumerates the essential connectedness of
the ebook and library environment. By restricting access to
ebooks to only those who are able to purchase the necessary
reading devices, and simultaneously restricting library
lending policies, the already existing “digital divide”
widens to encompass the information contained in digital
formats and not merely to access to technology. As a
writer and the librarian at a small independent K-through-8
school in Washington, DC, I discuss that the standardization
of ebook formats and the free access to books through
libraries in whatever format they happen to come, are
essential to preserving the open exchange of information and
ideas required in a modern democracy, and are key to a
productive citizenry. Without agreements that preserve the
fair distribution of books and their contents to all through
libraries, no nation can hope to remain competitive in a
world increasingly characterized by competition for jobs,
resources, and information.

Keywords: eBooks, Equity, Digital Divide, Libraries, Academic Freedom

The International Journal of the Book, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp.69-80. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 894.636KB).

Louise Pisano Simone

Librarian, Faculty Sheridan School, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA

I am a doctoral candidate in Georgetown University’s Liberal Studies Department. I have an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine arts and an MA from Georgetown University in Latin American Studies. My primary academic research concerns the portrayal of evil and “the other” in young adult fantasy and literature. Professionally, I am responsible for the development of a 10,000 volume school library in which budgetary and space limitations make the acquisition and use of ebooks an essential part of maintaining my school’s academic rigor. With the advent of the ebook and the current ambiguity about how libraries can use them, I consider the standardization of fair-use practices across all book platforms essential to maintaining an open and democratic society.

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